President Hifikepunye PohambaÔÇÖs state of the nation address

It is a great honour for me to speak to the Namibian people today, on this special occasion of the State of the Nation Address, through this Joint Sitting of our Parliament, as stipulated in Article 32 of the Namibian Constitution.  

I will use this opportunity to highlight the activities of the Government during the 2012/2013 Financial Year.  
I will also outline some of the major policy interventions that the Government will carry out in the new Financial Year.  I would like to start by thanking our lawmakers for their service to the nation as members of Parliament.  

It is appropriate that I applaud Dr Gurirab, Speaker of the National Assembly and indeed all Honourable Members of the National Assembly for the in-depth analysis and debate of the 2013/2014 Appropriation Bill, during the past few weeks.

I commend the SWAPO Party Caucus in the National Assembly for their initiative to accelerate the Budget Debate. As a result, the Debate will be completed in a shorter period of time. This is a welcome step, especially in the context of the imperative of accelerating public service delivery.   

The Appropriation Bill outlines our Government’s priorities in the allocation of resources during the next 12 months, and the remainder of the current Medium Term Expenditure Framework, up to the year 2016.

There is increasing pressure on the available financial resources due to the growing needs for the provision of services.   Hence, Government must prioritize our interventions strictly. We must ensure that sectors where the greatest needs have been identified, receive requisite attention and resources.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

It is critical for Government to design and implement effective policy initiatives and programmes to promote the realization of our national development agenda.  Towards this end, our Government has been hard at work to achieve speedy implementation of our policies and programmes, such as NDP4, in order to realise our people’s aspirations.  

Launched in July last year, NDP4 puts forward an economic development strategy, based on three inter-linked priorities, namely:
    •    high and sustainable economic growth;
    •    employment creation; and
    •    increased income equality.

We are working to realize these three objectives simultaneously, with a focus on the sub-sectors of manufacturing, logistics, agriculture and tourism.   We must work harder to implement initiatives aimed at empowering previously disadvantaged Namibians and bring them into the mainstream economy.   

The Office of the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Finance are working together with other Agencies of Government to ensure that public expenditure is aligned with the priorities of NDP4.  Government has also rolled out the Implementation Strategy of NDP4 to Offices, Ministries, Agencies and stakeholders.  Detailed guidelines have been prepared to assist respective sectors with the compilation of their Sectoral Execution Plans.  We have also introduced the National Integrated Monitoring, Reporting and Evaluation System to keep track of implementation activities.
This system will give early warnings, where desired progress is not being achieved, and thereby, enable Government to take corrective measures, so that stated goals and targets can be achieved on the basis of the Plan.  In fact, the system was  used for the preparation of the Development Budget for 2013/2014-2015/2016 MTEF and the compilation of the first Bi-annual Report on the implementation of NDP4, which was submitted to Cabinet in November last year.

Furthermore, we have adopted the “Growth at Home” approach in order to boost value addition to our natural resources.  At the core of this approach is the development of value chains in different sectors of our economy.

For example, we aim to reduce the export of livestock on the hoof. Instead, finished meat, leather and related products should be produced locally.  The same should happen in mining and fishing sectors, as important pillars of our economy.  These industries have historically demonstrated their potential to create jobs and contribute to economic growth.  They must be developed further to benefit our people.  

Similarly, other initiatives such as the Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment Creation and Economic Growth (TIPEEG) must be supported by all stakeholders, including the private sector.

The rationale behind these measures is two fold.  Firstly, it aims to bring together different public and private sector stakeholders in different sectors.  Once together, they will review past performance and seek consensus on issues such as strategies, partnership modalities as well as projects and programmes that must be implemented in order to achieve the NDP4 targets. Secondly, it aims to foster accountability on the part of political leaders and civil servants.  I believe that this is the logical course of action to take in order to achieve our stated targets.




Government will also continue to support economic growth and job creation through the implementation of capital projects and other initiatives. These include support to the Development Bank of Namibia, Agribank, Namibia Development Corporation and the SME Bank to provide of loans to local businesses and entrepreneurs.  

Similalry, the initiatives to promote Namibia as a hub for trade and commerce through the development corridors must be intensified.  We are encouraged by the fact that the measures we have taken to grow our economy are yielding positive results.  According to the Bank of Namibia, the national economy grew by 5 per cent last year.  It is, however, projected to grow by 4.4 per cent this year.  The country’s investment credit rating remains healthy as confirmed by both Fitch and Moody Credit Rating Agencies. Government has been praised for policies which have kept the budget deficit down at acceptable levels.  

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

The 5th SWAPO Party Congress outlined specific priority areas of development that need immediate attention and action by the Government.  It also emphasized the need to strengthen the current Government implementation mechanisms so that these priorities can be achieved speedily.  The relevant Congress Resolutions will be implemented within the framework of NDP4.  In so doing, we would surely see cumulative positive outcomes and impacts, measured in terms of better living conditions for our people.  Thus, it is vital that all sectoral lead Ministries and Agencies, as well as the private sector co-ordinate their work in order to create the necessary synergies and achieve our stated national development goals.





The information and communication technology sector is vital to the socio-economic development of our country, especially in the areas of industrialisation and the delivery of services such as education, health care, as well as internet access, broadcasting, banking and telephone services.  By promoting ICT, we can transform and modernise our economy.   

We are actively supporting investments in ICT infrastructure such as fibre optic cables, the West Africa Cable System (WACS) and the digital broadcasting migration by the NBC.  The migration from the old analog system to digital broadcasting, will make it possible for the NBC to provide more local content and more viewing channels to the public.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

We need a strong and reliable system for collecting, processing and interpreting national statistics to inform decisions on national development planning.  In this context, the Namibia Statistics Agency has been established as the central repository of all statistics produced in Namibia.

One of its first major tasks was the compilation of the provisional results of the 2011 National Population and Housing Census, which were released in April last year.  

Last week, I launched the Basic Report of the 2011 Census, which contains statistics on fertility, mortality, housing, migration patterns, employment and industrial developments in the country.  It will serve as a basis for all other major national surveys over the next 10 years.  According to the Census results, unemployment situation in the country now stands at 37 per cent.   



The results of the 2009/2010 Household Income and Expenditure Survey have also been released. We now have statistical details on the trends of poverty at the household level.  This data has informed our strategies on the reduction of poverty and income inequality as outlined in NDP4.  

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

Our society continues to be marked by high levels of poverty. Many of our citizens, especially those in rural areas and informal settlements, face difficult conditions with limited access to basic services and amenities. We must turn this situation around by addressing the underlying causes of unemployment, poverty and inequality in a comprehensive manner.

Government will continue to strengthen and expand food production, and the provision of services such as housing and sanitation, potable water, electricity and road infrastructure, especially in the rural areas of our Republic.  

Following extensive consultations, the Government has formulated the National Rural Development Policy. It creates a framework for improved and sustainable rural development initiatives.  The aim is to make our rural areas socially vibrant, more attractive to investors and to address the rural-urban migration phenomenon.

A National Rural Development Strategy has also been formulated. It is aimed at translating the provisions of NDP4, which are focused on rural development as well as the National Rural Development Policy, which I just mentioned, into workable programs.

In addition to intensifying rural development, we are taking steps to improve governance and service delivery in our Local Authorities. It is an open secret that many Local Authorities face challenges of governance, which have led to inconsistent and poor service delivery.  


Measures will, therefore, be implemented to strictly enforce financial prudence requirements for Local Authorities, promote capacity building and to review institutional, staffing and development planning procedures in Local Authorities.   

Furthermore, the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development will implement a mechanism to assist struggling Local Authorities.  It will include modalities for the Ministry to intervene in the operations of Local Authorities to ensure that Local Authorities continue to provide sustainable services to residents.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Dear Compatriots,

We have placed emphasis on the need for human resources development and capacity building. Thus, the sectors of education, health and housing are receiving special attention.  Towards this end, the Government has finalized the National Human Resource Plan, which projects skills requirements in the country for the next 15 years.   

We are concerned about the level of performance at different levels.  We must, therefore, improve the capacity of our teachers to assist our learners in all parts of the country to perform better in the vital disciplines such as languages, mathematics and science subjects.  

We must, particularly, lay a strong foundation at the pre-primary and primary school levels so that Namibian students can perform well in the secondary school phase and at tertiary education institutions.  

As part of the ongoing efforts to expand access to education, our Government has allocated funds to schools so that parents of children in public primary schools no longer have to pay money for School Development Funds. Similarly, the provision of stationery has been expanded to all public primary schools around the country.

I am pleased that the establishment of Vision Schools has started in earnest with the recent opening of the Divundu Vision School, in the Kavango Region.

Last year, Government commissioned a Report on the “Comprehensive and Holistic Review and Reform of the Higher Education System in Namibia in Relation to its Contribution to the Achievement of Vision 2030”.  Government is now developing a suitable funding formula for tertiary education institutions.

The aim is to place our tertiary education institutions on a strong footing for the achievement of our national vision.  During this Financial Year, we will continue to improve our education sector through the timely distribution of textbooks to schools, construction and renovation of school buildings and hostel facilities, and accommodation for teachers across the country.

Vocational Training continues to be at the centre of youth empowerment, capacity building and human resources development plans.  In this context, the Namibia Training Authority has developed a strategy to systematically forge closer links with the private sector. Studies will be conducted to document the type of employment secured by graduates of our VTCs.  I call upon the private sector to support the Vocational Training Levy and thereby support capacity building in the country.

In supporting human resources development, Government has increased funding for scholarships and loans for tertiary education. The Fund reached N$512 million for the 2012/2013 Financial Year, benefiting more than 8,582 students. This includes more than five thousand grants in the priority fields of medicine, science, engineering and other disciplines.

In the areas of housing and sanitation, various projects were executed to reduce the housing backlog and improve sanitation.  New houses were completed and handed over to beneficiaries as part of the social housing initiatives.  This includes the completion and handover of houses to some of the veterans of the national liberation struggle.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

The health care sector remains at the centre of our development efforts. We must ensure that the health sector delivers high quality services to our people at all times.  It is for this reason that in August last year, I instituted a Presidential Commission of Inquiry into the Activities, Affairs, Management and Operations of the Ministry of Health and Social Services.

The Commission has completed its work and presented its Report to me on 31st January this year.  At my direction, the Report was tabled in Parliament by the Minister of Presidential Affairs yesterday.  It has, therefore, become a public document. Government is analyzing the recommendations of the Report in order to take appropriate action.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

Encouraging achievements have been recorded in several health-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), namely, Goal 4 (on infant mortality), Goal 5 (on maternal mortality) and Goal 6 (on HIV/AIDS infection).

The 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey, which is currently underway, will provide further data on the rate of infant mortality in the country.  At the end of last year, statistics from the health facilities around the country have shown that the maternal mortality rate stands at 118 deaths for every 100 000 live births.

Progress has also been made in the reduction of the infection rate of HIV, TB and Malaria.   The provision of Anti-retroviral therapy and the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) has been expanded, covering 87 and 95 per cent of those eligible, respectively.
Ninety five percent of the babies from infected mothers were born HIV free. During the 2012/13 Financial Year, renovation and expansion work commenced at 6 hospitals, 18 clinics and 4 health centres.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,
 
Thousands of our people continue to cry out for land.  We must respond with a sense of urgency, so that the problems related to land reform and distribution do not become perennial.  In this regard, I am once again requesting those who own excess land to sell part of it to Government for distribution to our landless citizens.

In the current Financial Year, Government will introduce and execute measures aimed at, first, accelerating land reform and distribution, and secondly assisting resettled farmers.  Towards this end, Government has allocated funds, and work is currently underway to repair damaged and ageing water and other infrastructure on several resettlement farms. In addition, funds have also been made available to train resettled and emerging farmers to become more productive.

Furthermore, as a way of addressing land scarcity, our Government has decided to expand some communal areas by purchasing adjacent farmland and incorporating such land into identified communal areas.
 
This initiative has already benefited the communal areas of Hoachanas, Vaalgras, Otjimbingwe and Okombahe.  This should bring some relief to the residents of these areas by extending grazing land and water sources for both human and animal consumption.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,


We recognize the centrality of agriculture in our economy.  Last month, I inaugurated two Fresh Produce Hubs at Rundu, in the Kavango Region and at Ongwediva, in the Oshana Region. The facilities are part of our strategy to boost local food production.  They were funded by our Government at a cost of more than N$200 million.

The facilities will close the long-standing gap in the local food production value chain by providing a market for local food growers to sell their produce.  

I, therefore, urge all local food growers   to produce more food in order to feed the nation, create more jobs and improve the profitability of their farming operations.  We want to see more local produce on the shelves of local supermarkets and on more local lunch and dinner tables.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

The availability of reliable physical and communications infrastructure is a key ingredient for national development.  Hence, our Government continued with the implementation of various infrastructure projects across the country.  During the new Financial Year, we look forward to the deepening of the Walvis Bay Harbour in the Erongo Region and the construction of the Neckartal Dam in the Karas Region.

These projects will contribute to the development of our country and create employment opportunities for our people.  The construction of the National Fuel Storage Facility at Walvis Bay will commence during the 2013/2014 Financial Year.  It must be expedited.

Our Government has been exploring various options of ensuring energy security for the country.  In May last year, I inaugurated an 80 Mega Watt Generator Unit at the Ruacana Hydro-power Station in order to boost power generation capacity there.  

We have also decided to go ahead with the execution of power generation projects such as the Baynes Hydro Power and the Kudu Gas-to-Power Project.

Renewable energy has also been fully incorporated as part of the national energy mix. Namibia must take advantage of the development in the renewable energy sector to promote security of power supply in the country.  Public bids will be invited soon for the construction of three (3) solar power plants, with the capacity to generate up to ten (10) Mega Watts of electricity each.

The availability of reliable electricity is a critical component for the achievement of our National Development Goals (NDPs) and Vision 2030. Therefore, in addition to the existing power generation capacity, we must identify innovative solutions to provide adequate electricity for industrial and household use.

This is especially crucial, given the geographical size of our country and the financial, technical and other constraints in the further expansion of the existing national power grid.       

Fellow Namibians, our country is endowed with abundant sunlight.  We should harness this natural resource for the development of our country.  Development initiatives or industrial projects should not be delayed because of the inadequate supply of electricity.  We should find a solution.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

We remain steadfast in our commitment to crush the menace of corruption in our society.  In this regard, Government has provided funds to capacitate the Anti-Corruption Commission. There is no doubt that in order to achieve greater success, we must combat corruption on all fronts.  I am pleased to note that the Head Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission is nearing completion.
A Toll Free Line must be installed so that members of the public can speedily report and provide information about corrupt activities to the   Commission.  The message to anyone who engages in corrupt activities and other crimes should be loud and clear.  Crime, in whatever form, does not pay.  The long arm of the law will catch up with you.

I am informed that the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977, as amended, is currently undergoing comprehensive review.  This review includes issues on witness protection and speedy trial in criminal matters.  In this context, the drafting of legislation on the protection of whistleblowers should be handled separately and finalized speedily.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,


We are working hard to improve the monitoring and implementation of Cabinet Decisions in order to promote and enforce accountability by political leaders and civil servants.   I am pleased that Offices, Ministries and Agencies are complying with the directive of submitting Accountability Reports to the Cabinet.  

In the same vein, it is vital to ensure accountability and sound corporate governance at all state-owned enterprises.  The public resources allocated to these institutions must bear the required fruits.

Another vital area is the need to strengthen financial management in the public sector, especially in the area of procurement and contract management.  Government will apply a multi-faceted approach to promote value-for-money, greater transparency, public disclosure, and enforcement of more rigorous public tender procedures.  

A capacity building model for public sector financial management will be designed in consultation with NIPAM, to improve financial management in the civil service.

Another important reform initiative is the ongoing implementation of Strategic Plans in Offices, Ministries and Agencies across the public service. Most civil servants, starting with the Accounting Officers, have signed Performance Agreements, which set out the agreed targets and outputs that the staff member must deliver.

All Offices, Ministries and Agencies must implement their Strategic Plans fully, in order to entrench a culture of performance, accountability and transparency in our civil service.   

A Job Evaluation and Grading System for civil servants has been completed and will be implemented from the 2013/2014 Financial Year.    

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

I am  by the reported incidents of violence against women and children. Hundreds of Namibian women, children and other vulnerable members of society have fallen victim to heartless criminals.  Almost on a daily basis, there are reports of assault, rape and murder, which are committed in unspeakable ways.  

We must join hands to combat the abuse of drugs and alcohol, which are some of the causes of violence against women and children in our country.  This situation must be brought under control. I commend the law enforcement agencies for their successes in combating the spread of drugs in our country.

In addition to the recruitment and training of more police officers, new Police Stations have been built in different parts of the country.   I believe that this will go a long way in our efforts to protect our society, maintain law and order and ensure peace and security in our country.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,
The forces of nature are, once again, threatening the livelihoods of many of our people.  In the north-east, floods have destroyed crops and homesteads, while in the central, northern, eastern and southern parts of the country, our people face a serious drought.  Government is monitoring the situation closely.  Assessments have been carried out to determine the extent of crop failure and the impact of the drought on grazing.  

I have already directed the relevant institutions to be prepared in order to assist the families and communities affected by these natural disasters and avert suffering and loss of lives.

Recent reports of starvation and malnutrition in some communities must be investigated by the Offices of Regional Governors and Regional Councils, and appropriate steps should be taken immediately in co-ordination with the Office of the Prime Minister.  In this regard, the nation is, once again, counting on the Namibian Defense Force and the Namibian Police to be ready to provide support to ensure the success of the planned operations, as they have done in the past.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

In addition to our domestic policy on gender equality, Namibia has acceded to a number of international instruments at the levels of SADC, African Union and the United Nations.  Our Government will continue to promote gender inclusiveness in order to empower more Namibian women.

As a member of the international community, we are committed to the promotion of regional, continental and international peace and security.  Therefore, our foreign policy posture will continue to be in favour of the peaceful resolution of conflicts, here in the SADC Region, in the rest of Africa and in other parts of the world. We will continue to promote economic diplomacy and mutually beneficial relations amongst nations.

Honourable Speaker,
Honourable Chairperson,
Fellow Namibians,

The task of nation building is by no means easy.  There are many impediments to overcome.  As your elected leaders, our Government will continue to pursue this task with dedication.

I am confident that through hard work and co-operation of the whole nation, we will be equal to the task.  Our country can only continue to enjoy peace and stability by embracing the Policy of National Reconciliation, promoting inclusiveness, and by expanding public service delivery so that all Namibians can enjoy the fruits of independence, without exception.

Special focus will continue to be given to those who live in informal settlements, underdeveloped rural areas, senior citizens, orphans and vulnerable children, the unemployed, youth, women, workers and veterans of our liberation struggle.

The SWAPO Party Government policy interventions are aimed at achieving this noble objective.  We will continue to lead.  We will continue to serve the nation.

Long Live the Republic of Namibia!

I thank you.